Blog: Dean BestRetail numbers crunched on both sides of pond

Dean Best | 12 December 2007

Some thought-provoking figures on the grocery landscape on both sides of the Atlantic over the last 24 hours.

In the UK, Morrisons, the country’s fourth-largest grocer, is seen as the big improver, with its share rising to 11.3% during the three months to 2 December, according to TNS figures.

Morrisons, which under the stewardship of Marc Bolland, is focusing on the provenance of the food sold in its stores, saw sales grow 7% year-on-year, the highest of the big four, TNS said.

The market as a whole saw sales rise 5% during the 12-week period and the figures will certainly give Morrisons, perhaps until now the most maligned of the UK's "big four" grocers, a welcome shot in the arm.

Nevertheless, how Morrisons performs during the key Christmas period will give the industry a clearer indication of the outlook for the business.

In the US, the picture seems a bit less rosy. Shares in a number of major US grocers fell yesterday (11 December) in the wake of Kroger’s third-quarter results.

Kroger’s like-for-like sales were up but analysts were disappointed by lower margins from the retail giant’s fuel sales. The company’s gross margins dipped as earnings were also given a healthier glow from a tax benefit.

Industry watchers are also questioning how easy it is proving for US retailers to pass on higher supplier costs to consumers as the country’s economy tightens.

With the Fed cutting interest rates yesterday, will the pressure ease?


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